New outbreak in mumps cases reaches a 10-year high in U.S.


BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – Health officials are coping with the worst outbreak of the mumps in a decade, and colleges, including the SUNY campuses at Geneseo and New Paltz have been hardest hit.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, there are more than 2,800 cases of the mumps in 45 states and Washington D.C.

Here in New York, the state health commissioner says there have been 147 confirmed or probable cases of the mumps this year, 6 of those at SUNY University at Buffalo—the only known cases in Erie County.

If you have a family member coming home from a college for the holidays, where there has been a recent outbreak, Erie County Health Commissioner Dr. Gale Burstein suggested getting vaccinated, “Mumps is very contagious.”

The college campus hardest hit in New York has been SUNY at New Paltz, where 63 cases have been reported, and mumps has spread to at least one local high school, and 8 members of the school’s swim team have come down with the disease, prompting school officials to suspend the Hawks’ schedule for the rest of the semester.

With holiday travel coming up, Burstein issued a caution to parents, “Kids in those college campuses are returning home for the break, so that could be a potential source of exposure.”

The University at Buffalo has not been immune to the mumps outbreak, with 6 cases confirmed back in March, but Burstein said those cases surfaced just before spring break, which kept the spread to a minimum.

“The outbreak primarily occurred right before spring break, so most people left the campus. So hopefully it minimized transmission on campus during that time.”

There is no effective treatment for the mumps, but health officials say the best prevention is getting two doses of the mumps vaccine, and at SUNY Geneseo–which has removed un-vaccinated students from campus–health officials are even recommending three doses of the vaccine.

Commissioner Burstein said the usual symptoms are fever, headache, loss of appetite, and the classic sign of the mumps, a swollen face, “Swelling of the parotid glands–that is swelling of the neck, under the jaw. It is right under the ears so people’s ears look like they are popping out because they have these golf balls under the ears.”

Health officials point out, at best the mumps vaccine is about 88% effective, and it is administered with two other vaccines for rubella and the measles, known as the MMR vaccine. If you were born before 1967, chances are you got the mumps as a child, and Burstein said that provides immunity for life.

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